How Long Can an Air Conditioner Last?

how long air conditioners last

You hear that you should replace your air conditioner after 10-15 years of use, but some people have theirs for much longer. Here’s what happens as an air conditioner gets older.

Lower Efficiency

There are two ways you can look at energy efficiency, in relation to your air conditioner. The first is that your air conditioner will lose some efficiency over time. You can battle some of it back by replacing your air filters, getting regular maintenance to keep the internal components clean and recharge your refrigerant, and request prompt repairs whenever you notice a problem. The second is that cutting-edge technology allows new models to have a higher level of efficiency. Even if you bought an air conditioner that was top-of-the-line 20 years ago, the latest machines will probably have a far higher Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER).

Refrigerant Incompatibility

Air conditioning units rely on refrigerant to remove heat from the indoor air and expel that heat outdoors. Decades ago, that refrigerant was a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) known as R-22. The United States has been phasing out the production of this particular chemical for its role in depleting the ozone layer. Since 2010, all new models of air conditioners use R-410A, a refrigerant that does not have the same capacity to damage the environment. This means that R-22 refrigerant has become increasingly harder to find to recharge old units. If your system requires a recharge and it uses R-22, you may have no choice but to upgrade to a new machine no matter how well your current unit runs.

Component Failure

Most people decide to replace their air conditioners after some kind of component breakdown. One of the most serious is the compressor. The compressor is a part of the exterior unit of the air conditioner, and it compresses the refrigerant so that it can be cooled and returned back into the home. All kinds of small issues could eventually lead the compressor to give out, such as dirty coils, inadequate lubrication or an accidental overcharge of refrigerant. Eventually, and especially without proper maintenance, many parts of the air conditioner will fail. During regular maintenance with a Sacramento HVAC expert, you can learn if some of your components are ready to go.

Repair Expenses

The key for your decision to keep going relies on your ability to ensure ideal upkeep for the machine, as well as the expenses for repairs. Replacing your air filters costs very little and is something you should do every season. Buying a new compressor or evaporator coil costs many hundreds of dollars. Your machine might work well for even up to 15-20 years without a major breakdown. Once you reach that point, though, you should be prepared to pay for replacement.
Keeping your air conditioner far beyond its lifespan may give you bragging rights, but you are also losing out on better efficiency and comfort. A well-maintained air conditioner could last almost a generation, but these tips help you know when to call it quits. For more information about new air conditioners, contact Ace Plumbing.